Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

From Franchisee to Franchisor

The franchisor of Sports Clips understands franchisees, for one good reason: He's been one himself.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

From a franchising standpoint, Gordon Logan's pretty much seen it all. After earning an engineering degree from MIT, serving in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve, and earning a MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Logan joined the franchising world and opened his first Command Performance salon in 1979. After nearly 15 years with that franchise, watching it move through bankruptcy and management changes, Logan eventually became a franchisor, assuming control of Command Performance with a partner before deciding to start something new.

In 1995, Logan founded Sport Clips, a sports-themed haircutter catering to men and boys. Through his experience as a franchisee of Command Performance, Logan strives to maintain a consistent and franchisee-friendly system.

Franchise Zone spoke with Logan about life on both ends of franchising and how his experiences as an operator are helping his relationships with Sport Clips franchisees today.

What originally attracted you to franchising?

The typical appeal--to be able to go into an industry where I had no background, because someone else had developed a system and a plan for building a brand. Back in those days, men were just starting to go to salons in great numbers, and Command Performance came along to take advantage of that. So their concept, operating system and marketing programs were part of a package that somebody who was not from that industry could use to get into this business.

Had you considered starting your own business instead of becoming a franchisee?

Yes, a friend of mine and I had been looking at a number of opportunities--either buying an existing mom-and-pop type business or a franchise. After looking at both, I decided to go the franchising route; he decided to go the other route.

My partner and I had 12 or 15 Command Performance salons, and it was only when we transitioned into Sport Clips as our primary focus that I sold those. I believe in the concept of a franchisor owning and operating company stores. It gives the franchisor the firsthand experience of dealing with the day-to-day challenges of operating a business, provides a great platform for testing new ideas. It helps me see that everything works as it should, is properly documented and makes sense from a financial and an operational standpoint before we make any additions or changes to our operating systems for our whole franchise. Today, we have eight company-owned stores, and we will probably always have eight or 10 or 12 company stores, not only because they're good profit generators, but because it keeps our hand on the sharp side of the shears, so to speak.

Based on your experience as a franchisee, how did you want to be viewed as a franchisor?

Franchisees look to the franchisor for the vision of the system and to maintain the integrity and the consistency of that image, to drive the business in that direction. We operate on three principles, which we borrowed from Lou Holtz [former Notre Dame football coach and motivational speaker], who gave us permission years ago to incorporate his concepts into our system: Do the right thing, treat other people the way you want to be treated and do your best. That's the way we run our business, and it filters down not only in the way we deal with our franchisees, whom we call our team leaders, but also in the way we expect our team leaders to deal with their store managers and stores managers to deal with their teams. It's the right way to do business, and it helps us attract and retain a lot of very good people who were not necessarily treated that way in their previous companies.

What are some lessons you learned from your experience at Command Performance that help you to deal with your own franchisees now?

We strive hard to maintain the vision, the consistency and the quality. In [Command Performance], after going through the bankruptcy, a lot of people went in different directions. Some people were charging $25 for a haircut, some were charging $5, and the image in the consumer's mind got very blurred. That's something we made sure to avoid.

We also make sure we have critical mass of stores in any given market. We expanded state by state, market by market to make sure we don't have "orphans"--one store in South Dakota and one in Maine. When we go into a market, we develop that market and make sure there are enough stores to build the brand and give us a marketing advantage.

The other lesson we learned is the importance of open communication with our franchisees and honesty in dealing with them--making sure they understand why we're doing what we're doing.

What other issues are important in dealing with your franchisees?

Franchisees and franchisors should truly have common goals and interests, and anything that's good for one should be good for the other. Franchisors are only successful if their franchisees are successful, and a good franchisor will only do things that are good for the system as a whole, to protect the interests of the franchisees. An important part of the communication process is making sure everybody understands the importance of the consistency. Everyone has to deal openly and fairly and work to make our image consistent from one market to the next so we do indeed have a national brand.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks